Our Family

Our Family

Friday, April 24, 2015

April Nature Seekers 4 H Meeting

For our April meeting, we usually go to Grandview and meet at an earlier time.  We are in the midst of soccer season and have games 3 nights a week.  Moving the time up for these meetings and having other people do the programs makes it a little easier on me.  We had a small group this time, only 10 kids (6 of which were mine.)

Our program was on recycling.  We learned several different facts about the difference recycling can make.  They also learned the meaning of the terms reduce, reuse, and recycle.




Then we made hummingbird feeders out of water bottles.  I am going to try and describe what we did so you can make one at home if you want to.

Each child was given 3 water bottles.  They had to cut the bottoms off of two.


They took those two bottoms and matched them up one on top of the other and hot glued around the seam sealing it completely.


We drilled holes in the lid of one of the bottles we used and poked a hole into the top of the piece we glued together.  They stuck a screw through the lid and the bottle (to keep that part from being glued) and hot glued the lid to the bottom piece.  Then they poked three holes in the side of that bottom piece and attached three red flowers with a screw (to keep the hole from being glued) and hot glued the three red flowers on.


We screwed the other water bottle on to the bottom piece and wrapped wire around the bottle for a hanger.



The children can't wait to fill these with sugar water and hang them up!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Schoolhouse Crew Review: ARTistic Pursuits

ARTistic Pursuits Review
Art can be a hard subject for the homeschool mom to teach.  Many of us feel inadequate to teach it and it can be hard to fit it in to an already busy schedule. I am not at all artistically talented, but I think art is an important subject to teach.  ARTistic Pursuits is an art curriculum that is designed for use in the homeschool.  They have books for all different age ranges and are one of my favorite vendors.  Recently we had an opportunity to use and review Early Elementary K-3, Book 3: Modern Painting and Sculpture.
ARTistic Pursuits Review
There are three books in the early elementary section for approximate grades K-3: Early Elementary K-3, Book One: Introduction to the Visual Arts  , Early Elementary K-3, Book Two: Stories of Artists and Their Art , and Early Elementary K-3: Book 3: Modern Painting and Sculpture.  The books do not necessarily have to be used in order.  Each book contains 36 lessons and has colorful illustrations, art appreciation, and a wide variety of projects. These books are non consumable and can be used with multiple children.  You can purchase each book for $47.95.


Early Elementary K-3, Book 3: Modern Painting and Sculpture. focuses on the artwork and movements that had the greatest influence on our culture.  This book is divided into two sections: Impressionist Painting and Sculpture and Modern Painting and Sculpture.  In the first section students will learn about artists such as Monet, Degas, Renoir, Pissaro, Cassat, Van Gogh, Seurat, and more. In the second section students will learn about Fauvism, Cubism, Assemblage, Expressionism, Realism, Land Art, Computer Art and more.  The lessons have a short text for the parent to read to the child and a piece of art to look at with questions to answer.  Then comes the project.  Each project lists the necessary materials (there is also a page in the front of the book that lists all the materials for the book), step by step instructions, and a student gallery showing what other students made for this project.  

Take a look at some samples and the Table of Contents on this page.


For review purposes, I jumped around in the book a bit so I could get an idea of the different types of projects covered throughout the year.  If I had purchased the book and was using it as a regular curriculum, I would have gone in order.  The first lesson we did for an art co-op.  I teach a once a month homeschool art co-op and had planned on doing something about Henri Matisse.  My book arrived in the mail just in time, so we did the lesson on Fauvism (Lesson 20) and made a collage.  I had 15 students in the class ranging from age 4-11.  
Anthony titled his piece "The Thief" 
After that we used the book at home weekly.  My 6,8,and 9 year olds participated along with my 4 year old as she was interested.  We made a lot of great art projects!

At home we started with Lesson One on Art and the Subject.  We used Gouache paints for this.  We had never used them before but they have now become one of their favorite type of paints.
In Lesson 2 we learned about lines and solid shapes and painted some common household items.
We skipped ahead a bit to Lesson 11 Degas Makes Art in Public Places and learned how to shade and tint with oil pastels.

Then we did Lesson 12 on Sculpture.



Next we moved on to Lesson 13 on Modeled Sculpture and made some figures out of clay.  
We LOVE ARTistic Pursuits.  As a mom, I love how it easy it is to teach.  A few minutes of reading through the text, a picture study with some questions for the children to answer is the only "lesson" part.  Then the children have an opportunity to get to the creative part.  Even a mom with no artistic talent at all (like me) can follow along with the step by step instructions to guide their children through the assignments.  The inclusion of other children's art work in the book is a wonderful thing because it shows what other children on their level are creating rather than adults with years of experience and maturity have created and gives the children more realistic expectations of what their work will look like.  Even though there are instructions to follow there is plenty of room for the child's creativity to shine though.  The book contains a wide variety of fun and interesting age appropriate projects that explore different art mediums and teaches new techniques.  I am just amazed at the really cool projects that I NEVER could have come up with myself.  The books are non consumable so you do not need a separate book for each child.  One book can be used for the whole family.  Even though the books in the K-3 series are geared for K-3rd grade, they can be used and enjoyed by older children as well.  
How much time you will spend using ARTistic Pursuits depends on the project and the child.  We usually do art in the morning after our morning school work so the children can work as long as they need on their projects while I get lunch started.  A few of the projects will take more than one session to allow projects to dry.

You will need specific supplies to complete the projects.  There is a project list in the front of the book showing what is needed for the entire book split up into 3 sections: painting materials, sculpture materials, and odds and ends.  Each project also has a box showing which material are needed for that particular lesson.  ARTistic Pursuits has links on their site to buy packages containing all of the supplies, or you can purchase them anywhere at once or a little at a time.  We live a good distance from places to buy art supplies, so I found that buying the whole set at once worked the best for me. If you are using with multiple children there may be a few things like clay, paper, and paint brushes that you will need to buy extra so everyone has enough.


I have reviewed other books from ARTistic Pursuits.  You can find my Sculpture Technique: Model review here and my Elements of Art and Composition here.  I have also purchased and used Early Elementary K-3, Book One: Introduction to the Visual Arts   and loved that one as well.

Member of The Crew reviewed all of the different books from ARTistic Pursuits.  To see what my Crew Mates had to say, click on the banner below.
ARTistic Pursuits Review


Sunday, April 19, 2015

Homeschool Wrap Up Week 30

This week we lost a day in our homeschool because of standardized tests.  In Arkansas we are required to take the math and reading portion of the Iowa Test in grades 3-9.  The test only takes 2 hours, but we never do school on testing day.  By the time we get there and back everyone (including me!) is done for the day.  I had 3 children who were required to test this year.  The really good news is that this is our last year to test since Arkansas just voted to do away with this test requirement for homeschoolers.

Week 30 In Our Homeschool

Bible: We finished Lesson One and started Lesson Two in our Book of Moses Part 2 study fro Real Life Press.  We also watched a DVD called Torchlighters: The John Wesley Story.

History: We read lessons 79-81 in Mystery of History Vol III on William and Mary and the Glorious Revolution, John Locke, and the Salem Witch Trials.  We did memory cards and time line figures for last week and this week so we are all caught up now.

Science: We are reading aloud the Swiss Family Robinson and worked on Week 2 of our Weather on the Move study.  We also did the first experiment in our Physics Quest Kit.  Physics Quest since out free science kits for middle school students who sign up every year.  You complete experiments that go along with a comic book adventure.  Even though its middle school age all of my boys participated.

Art-As much as I wanted to we didn't get to it this week.

Grammar/Writing/Literature-Nick and Alex finished Lesson 28 of Fix it! Grammar and continued working on Lesson 24 in IEW Medieval Writing.  I read two more chapters of The Wheel on the School to Christian and Anthony and they worked every day in their copy books.

Reading/Spelling-Anthony and Christian started Lesson 15 of AAR Level 2.

Math- Everyone finished the lessons we started last week.  Nick finished Lesson 29 of Pre-Algebra, Christian and Anthony finished Lesson 27 of their books and Alex finished Lesson 26 of Delta.

My Father's World Creation From A to Z

Lily and I made the ABC Snack for letter K on Monday afternoon, Kettle Corn and Kisses.  This was not my most favorite of the ABC Snacks.  The girls really couldn't do anything besides measure the popcorn and my lid came off my pan when I was shaking the popcorn up and I burned my arm (just a little burn.)  It did taste really yummy though.

Lily started and finished Letter "Z" for Zebra.  We learned about zebras and Africa.  Her worksheets included picture card page, sound discrimination page, handwriting page, cut and paste page, math page, and drawing page.  She also made a zebra badge, made a map of Africa, and had a story page.

Our caterpillars and praying mantis egg case arrived this week.

Other Activities For This Week:

Monday: Iowa tests in morning.  Archery and soccer were rained out.

Tuesday- Lily had gymnastics and Nick and Alex had a soccer game.  5 Minutes before the game was supposed to start it started thundering and lightning and pouring like crazy.  Game cancelled.

Wednesday- Stay home day!

Thursday- We had archery, went out to eat with daddy, played on the playground for an hour and then Christian, Nick, and Alex had soccer games.

Friday- We got to play at the park with some friends.  It has been a very long time since we were able to do that.  Then we had to do our grocery shopping at Walmart.

Saturday- We headed to Texarkana for the day. We did some shopping and saw a movie.

Sunday- Church today and a major clean out of closets started.  We are going to be doing some painting and rearranging upstairs and it is a good time to get of some things we no longer need.  We will see how much we can get accomplished because this week will be another busy one.

Happy Homeschooling!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Schoolhouse Crew Review: Star Toaster

Star Toaster Review
Our latest review opportunity was from Star Toaster.  My 11 year old and I have been using the first book of their program Orphs of the Woodlands, The Treasure of  HighTower.
Star Toaster Review
Orphs of the Woodlands is more than just a book.  It is an online story, and in the course of the story there are many interactive features such as: music, sound effects, vocabulary pop ups, recipes, disappearing ink, and more.  The story begins when the student is left a note on their doorstep telling them the Woodlands are in danger and the WAK underground is looking for spies to help them stop the Night Creatures from taking over.  The child applies to be a spy and their adventure begins.  

Orphs of the Woodlands has many other academic features besides reading and vocabulary. At the end of each chapter of the story, the child goes to a place called Ivythwaite.  Here they are able to complete jobs to earn stars,  Over the course of the book there are 66 math jobs, 32 science jobs, 29 language jobs, 66 vocabulary jobs, 62 thinking skill jobs, 19 character jobs, and 6 jobs in the arts category.  Each job has a training section and then a question to answer.  Lessons may include videos, flash cards, memory typer, and exercises to improve thinking skills. The child earns stars when they choose the correct answer.
Star Toaster Review


By earning the star, the child is then able to rescue and care for their orphs, the orphaned woodland creatures. They can build projects, buy land, and build orphanages.
Star Toaster Review

Parents have their own account so they can see at a glance how their child is doing and also preview the book or any of the jobs. Progress reports are also emailed to the parent.


Orphs of the Woodlands is recommended for grades 4-7.  They offer a free trial for the first 100 pages of the story.  A 60 day subscription costs $19.99 for up to 3 children.  A 30 day extension can be purchased for $6.99.


What parent doesn't want their child to read more?  When I first found out about the review opportunity for Orphs of the Woodlands, I thought it would be great for my 11 year old son Alex.  He has been using the program 3 days per week for 20-30 minutes a day.  The story itself is very interesting and draws children in.  My children love fantasy/adventure stories and this one definitely is both of those. The features within the stories such as the sound effects, and music add an interactive element.  My favorite interactive feature is the recipes. I also like the inclusion of all of the different vocabulary words and the pop ups that give definitions, quotes, and synonyms for the words.  


Rather than having the children read for a period of time and then play games, Orphs of the Woodlands adds a fun educational element to the story.  By doing the assigned jobs, the children learn about a wide variety of topics.  They are given the skills they need to complete the jobs first giving them an opportunity to succeed.  When they do not get the answer correct, nothing is taken away, but nothing is earned either.  Alex enjoyed earning the gold stars and being able to rescue and care for his orphs.


The biggest challenge we faced with this program is that the chapters are long.  When you are working with a struggling reader who wants to be independent rather than have mom read to him, the length of time it takes to get to Ivywaite can be very frustrating.  There is a page counter at the bottom of each page showing how many more pages you have in that chapter, which does help the student know how much further they have to go.   Since this is an online program, you are reading on a computer screen and that took him longer to read the chapters then reading a regular book does.   


I would love to see a similar story in a lower reading level developed in addition to this one.  It is a great concept and would make a wonderful addition to any home, homeschool, or for summer reading fun. 

To see what my Crew Mates had to say, click on the banner below.
Star Toaster Review


Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Schoolhouse Crew Review: Memoria Press First Start Reading

Memoria Press Review
Memoria Press produces easy to use, classical, Christian materials for home and private schools. Memoria Press products require no previous knowledge of the subject being taught but are designed with high academic standards.  We recently had an opportunity to use and review First Start Reading.
Memoria Press Review

First Start Reading is not just a reading program.  It is a phonics, reading, and printing program for children around kindergarten age.  The program covers consonants, short and long vowels, 45 common words, and manuscript printing with a strong emphasis on correct pencil grip and letter formation.  First Start Reading uses a traditional vowel consonant approach combined with word families.  Students begin blending and reading in Lesson 3 of Book A.  The student workbooks have letters to trace and draw on their own along with pictures to color and space to draw.  The Teacher's Manual contains reading and writing teaching helps, scripted lessons, assessments, and posters. The First Start Reading Set includes a Teacher's Manual and 4 student workbooks and can be purchased for $42.95.  You also have the option to buy products separately.  


Book A has 25 lessons and covers letter sounds m,a,s,n,r,f,t,h,th, /z/ sound of s,/i/ sound of i,c,p, and st.  In addition to the letter sounds, words, sentences, and stories students will also learn reading skills such as starting a sentence with a capital, using a period and exclamation point, when to use a and an, and plural nouns.  Book B has 25 stories and covers letter sounds I,g,l,o,b,and d.  This book has 12 stories and teaches reading skills such as dictation and using a question mark.  Book C has 33 lessons and teaches letter sounds e,x,k,j,u,v,w,y,z,and q.  There are 7 stories in this book and reading skills include dictation, quotation marks, paragraphs, and sentences continuing to the next line.  Book D has 12 lessons and teaches letter sounds long a,i,o,u, digraphs sh,th,ch,wh, and final consonant blends s, r, and l.  There are 3 stories in Book D.  

FSR Table of Contents
Book A Sample
Book B Sample
Book C Sample
Book D Sample

I have been using First Start Reading with my daughter who just turned 6 years old.  We have been doing one lesson per day 3-4 days per week.  We work on a 4 day per week schedule in our homeschool.

My very first impression of this program was how visually appealing the books are.  They have cute illustrations on the front and soft colors.  It made us want to dive right in!  I started reading through the Teacher's Guide so I would have a good overview of the program before starting it with Lily.  The Teacher's Guide has a lot of helpful information on letters and their sounds, proper pencil grip, and letter formation.  Each lesson is scripted for the teacher and all you have to do is follow the script. The instructions are written for a classroom teacher, but are very easily adaptable to the homeschool teacher.  

The program teaches in a way that has the children reading within the first few lessons which I think is wonderful!  Children at this age are eager to learn to read and if they have to learn a lot of rules without being able to use them they will get frustrated.  Learning to blend and read early on shows them they can be successful! 

Reading and writing go together and it is important to teach the correct way to form letters before children develop bad habits.  First Start Reading gives plenty of instruction and writing practice. Children watch the teacher form the letters, draw the letters in the air, trace the letters , and draw their own.

My favorite part of the workbooks though is that children have the ability to really make them their own.  Each letter has 2 pictures to color, and there is a space for them to draw something starting with the letter and to illustrate a sentence in the stories after they finish reading them.
There is review built in to the lessons, and assessments for the teacher.  Grammar is also taught such as when to use "a" and "an", what is an apostrophe, differences between "to" and "too", punctuation, and more.  Comprehension questions are included with the stories and students start not only reading the words but dictating them as well.  
The Teacher's Guide does not tell you how many lessons per week you should complete or how many days per week you should be working, but you really can work at the child's pace and move slower for children who need it and allow children who are ready to complete multiple lessons.

With First Start Reading, Memoria Press has definitely lived up to the their goal to produce products that are easy to use, good quality and affordable.  I am quite excited to have an opportunity to another of their products Famous Men of Rome that I will be receiving soon!

Members of The Crew reviewed First Start Reading and New American Cursive Penmanship Program. To see what my Crew Mates had to say, click on the banner below.

Memoria Press Review

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Homeschool Wrap Up Week 29

This time of year, many homeschool moms start feeling pressured.  They feel like the end of the year is coming up fast and they are not where they need to be.  Or, outside activities may stop them from getting their book work completed like they thought.  Sometimes spring fever sets in and you desire to spend time outdoors, but the school books are calling you.  Don't let the pressure to finish strong on a predetermined date steal your joy!  You don't have to finish every book to finish well.  A successful homeschool year is not measured in the amount of work that is completed!

We actually had several outside activities this week and only had two full school days, Monday and Tuesday, but we sure learned a lot!

Week 29 In Our Homeschool

Bible: We started a new study from Real Life Press called The Book of Moses Part 2.  We finished Days 1 and 2 of Lesson 1.

History: We read lessons 76-78 in Mystery of History Vol III on John Milton and John Bunyan, William Penn and the Founding of Pennsylvania, and The Atlantic Slave Trade.  We will do the timeline and memory cards with the ones from next week :)

Science: We started a unit study from Homeschool Legacy called Weather on the Move.  We worked on the first lesson of it.  To go along with the study, we also started reading aloud The Swiss Family Robinson.  I have read it aloud before but it has been a few years and my younger children do not remember reading it before.

Art: We worked on a lesson in ARTistic Pursuits on Edgar Degas and made some clay sculptures.

Grammar/Writing/Literature: Nick and Alex finished Lesson 27 of Fix It! Grammar and started Lesson 23 in IEW Medieval Writing.  This will probable be the last lesson we complete in that book because we are getting a new review from IEW!  Christian and Anthony and I read 2 more chapters in The Wheel on the School and answered the comprehension questions.  I also forgot to mention that after spring break I started having them do some handwriting practice since I do not think they do enough handwriting.  I bought some copybooks called Pentime they are working in everyday.

Spelling/Reading-Christian and Anthony finished Lesson 14 of AAR Level 2.

Math-They only had 2 days of Math so they started a new lesson but didn't finish it.  Nick started Lesson 29, Christian and Anthony started Lesson 27 of their books and Alex started Lesson 26 of Delta.

My Father's World Creation From A to Z

Lily started and finished Unit 17: Kangaroo.  We read about some fascinating facts about kangaroos, watched a kangaroo video, and read a book about kangaroos.  She did worksheets including a picture card page, handwriting page, sound discrimination page, math page, cut and paste page, and blend ladder page.  We read the book Katy No Pocket.

Other Activities This Week:

Monday archery was cancelled. Christian did have a soccer game at 7 that didn't get started until about 7:30.  They played great and won in a shoot out.

Tuesday Lily had gymnastics and Emmie and I ran a few errands while she was there.  We headed back home and made and ate supper and then headed back to town for Nick and Alex's 7:00 soccer game.  They played great and won in a shoot out.  Nick was playing goalie and ended up with a minor hand injury but he saved the goal so for him that was worth it.

Wednesday we had our science and art co-op at Grandview.



Thursday we had a field trip to Mid America Science Museum.  They had been closed for 6 months to do renovations and recently reopened.  The changes were not at all what I expected, but we all had a really good time!






Friday we did our grocery shopping and Friday night Nick and Alex had a soccer practice.

Saturday we went to a fishing derby at Grandview.




Sunday after church Christian and Anthony's Sunday School class had a pizza party, so I grabbed some Pizza Hut for the rest of the children and we headed back to church to eat and wait on the party to be over.  The rest of my day will be spent working on my blog, cleaning, and getting ready for school next week.

Happy Homeschooling!

Saturday, April 11, 2015

The Aeneid Review and Giveaway!




One of the things that I have learned during my homeschool journey is that you don't have to be knowledgeable in every subject in order to teach it to your children.  You can bring experts into your home to teach them for you.  One way to do this is by using video curriculum.  I have found this to be especially helpful in the middle/high school ages not only because it helps me as a teacher but also because it allows the student to be able to work independently.  Roman Roads Media publishes Classical video curricula from a Christian perspective that will help to instill a love of learning in your children.

Last year I had an opportunity to review Old Western Culture: The Greeks, the first year of a 4 year program intended for 8th-12th graders.  I was very impressed with this curriculum and was quite happy when I was offered the chance to do a review and giveaway of the first unit, The Aeneid of The Romans: Year 2.

The Aeneid is a 4 DVD and workbook set that will take the student around 9 weeks to complete.  The course is made up of video instruction, reading assignments, workbook exercises, and an ending exam and term paper. After completing all 4 units the student will have earned a full credit in literature and history.  I would also award a 1/2 credit in art history. There are 12 lectures in the unit including:

Overview of Roman History
Introduction to the Aeneid
Aeneid 1: Rome is an Idea
Aeneid II: The Fall of Troy & the Wanderings of Aeneas
Aeneid III: Tragedy of Dido
Aeneid IV: The Underworld
Aeneid V: The Broken Truce
Aeneid VI: Tragedy of Nisus
Aeneid VII: Death of Turnus
Ovid's Metamorphoses I
Ovid's Metamorphoses II
Lucretius, Lucan, & Statius

The workbook contains a suggested 9 week schedule and has comprehension questions for both the reading and the lecture, and an answer key. A guide to the art booklet is also included showing a piece of full color art for each lesson and a description of the work of art.

When you purchase the Aeneid Bundle ($62) you receive a physical copy of the DVDs and workbook, plus streaming access. You can also choose just DVD or streaming option for $56.  You will also need access to the reading assignments.  Digital copies of all of the assigned texts are included with your purchase and can be read on a tablet or your computer.


I have found Mr. Callihan's lectures to be very interesting, humorous,and educational.  His love of what he is teaching comes across when he is speaking and he has a great storytelling style that keeps you engaged.  There are many visuals included in the lectures such as timelines, artwork, maps and more. The reading assignments are challenging, but interesting and the comprehension questions will help students listen actively to the lectures and better understand what they are reading.  I love the art aspect of the curriculum as well, but parents should be aware that this course is designed for ages 14 and up and some of the classic artwork and mature themes may not be considered appropriate for younger children.  The curriculum comes from a Christian worldview.

Giveaway!!!

Roman Roads Media has offered me an opportunity to host a giveaway for an Aeneid Bundle ($62 value.)  Giveaway will be open starting April 11th 2015 and will continue through April 25th 2015.  Prize will be fulfilled by Roman Roads Media.  Good Luck!!



a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this curriculum for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review.  I received no other compensation and all opinions are my own.  I am disclosing this in accordance to FTC regulations.